An Inspiring Week: Two Holy Trinity Seminary Professors in Moscow
In January 2017, two Holy Trinity Seminary Professors, Deacon Andrei Psarev and Dr. Elena Nelson, were in Moscow, giving presentations and engaging in professional development.
Byzantine Heritage Tour III
At Holy Trinity Seminary, we realize the necessity of travel beyond a classroom. Therefore, in the summer of 2015,students of Byzantine History went to Istanbul in the summer of 2015, and this spring, they joined students of Liturgical Theology to explore Byzantine liturgical art in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York City.
To continue this "Byzantine Heritage Tour" with a new group of students,seven seminarians and three faculty drove down to New York City on the weekend of December 16-17, 2016 to visit the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Outside of Russia and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
At the Synod, these pilgrims met with Bishop Nicholas of Manhattan, who welcomed them into his office, gave them a personal tour of the premises, and finally, invited them into his cell for a warm conversation. During the tour, Vladyka emphasized the need to understand and appreciate ROCOR history to experience continuity with the past. Not only does this help to frame the present and direct the church into the future, but it also keeps us in living communion with the more recent saints in heaven. From this perspective, Vladyka reiterated the need to keep Mr.Serge Semenenko in our memories and prayers, as he donated New York City building that houses the Synod.
During the tour, the students were taken to St. Sergius of Radonezh English-Language Mission and to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Sign, both of which are housed in the Synod. The Cathedral is the only Orthodox church in the greater New York City metropolitan area that offers a complete daily cycle of services, including the liturgy. Although the original Kursk-Root Icon was not present, a copy was available for veneration, along with relics from various saints, a rare icon of the spiritual history of Russia, and the miraculous icon of Our Lady of All Who Sorrow from Harbin (in St. Sergius Chapel). Also on display was the mantle worn by Tsar Nicholas on the day of his coronation. In this context, Vladyka wanted the students to remember that the Synod is a unique place, not only because it is sanctified by myriads of prayers but because of its spiritual history: "this is the place where St. John of San Francisco stood; this is the place where St. Xenia and the New Martyrs were glorified."
Finally, Vladyka gave the students very important advice for future priests. They must always be open to their parishioners, always have their doors open to welcome them, talk to them, and help them in any way possible. After all, the priest exists for the salvation of his people, and therefore, must be warm, loving, and inviting.
After an edifying time at the synod and a good nights' rest at a hotel in Newark International Airport, the students and faculty were up at 7:30am, ready to eat breakfast and start their day-long excursion in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. They were blessed with a special tour of the Byzantine collection by Fr. Deacon Evan Freeman, an instructor of liturgical art at St Vladimir's Seminary and doctoral student in Byzantine Art at Yale. He walked students through the exhibit, engaging them in the material history of the Orthodox Church in the middle and late Byzantine periods. This included liturgical items (chalices and censors), devotional items (made of ivory and encaustic), and even a khachkar, a monumental Armenian cross-stone. Through the guidance of Fr. Evan, the students received an art-historical perspective that supplemented the dogmatic, liturgical, and historical perspectives learned in classes and in church. One of the most amazing features of this tour was the visual reinforcement of the Orthodox Church's true continuity with tradition for over 1,500 years!
After the tour, the group went to the international exhibit of "Jerusalem 1000-1400: Every People under Heaven," and then, dispersed for half an hour of self-directed exploration. Thereafter, the group went to the Metropolitan's "Cloisters" branch, amedieval Catholic compound reconstructed in Manhattan from the stones of various French abbeys. With Gregorian chant and a medieval morality play in the background, this experience provided an important space for students to consider "comparative religion." Finally, the group passed through St. Vladimir Seminary on the way back home to Jordanville.
Thank God for a fun, informative, and edifying trip! Also, special thanks to two anonymous donors, the parishes of St. Nectarios in TN and St. Elizabeth in NJ, and Holy Trinity Seminary that made this trip possible.
Public Lecture: “Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Overview of Life, Works and Influence.”
On Thursday, October 27th, 2016, Dr Alexis Klimoff, Emeritus Professor of Russian Studies, Vassar College, and one of the foremost experts on Alexander Solzhenitsyn, delivered an illustrated lecture titled "Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: Overview of Life, Works and Influence." in the seminary hall.
Dr. Klimoff portrayed the life of Solzhenitsyn and his works in that context. Of particular mention was how his work "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," which gave a vivid illustration of life in Stalinist prison labor camps, was actually published in the Soviet Union with the express approval of Communist Party Secretary Nikita Krushchev. The lecture was recorded and is now available for viewing.
Another Successful Summer Youth Program!
It was so successful that we filled our dormitory with 17 open-minded young men who made a commitment to learn the truths of God and to explore the life of the Church in the setting of Holy Trinity Monastery! There was so much interest that some applicants, unfortunately, had to be turned away. We are hopeful to be able to expand this unique program that incorporates liturgical life, religious education, service to the monastery, and fellowship. We are very excited about this development!
This program has been a regular summer activity at Holy Trinity since its inception and has consistently proven to be life changing for the participants, who receive a deep catechetical education in a monastic setting with individualized pastoral guidance. They, then, put into practice what they learn in the "classroom" by participating in the liturgical life of the Church and helping the monastics with such tasks as working on the farm, making incense, and digging graves (a very contemplative activity). Not only does this leave all the young men with a profound relationship to their faith, but many are even inspired to serve in the Church for the rest of their lives, becoming seminarians, well-established clergymen, and even hierarches!
After all this serious activity, the boys even have time to enjoy themselves with barbecues, sports, and hiking in the woods through our 1,000-acre property!
Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of our Summer School of Liturgical Music!
This year marked the 25th Anniversary of our Summer School of Liturgical Music, Holy Trinity Seminary's fully-accredited certificate program in liturgical music. Interested participants came from throughout the country to strengthen their musical skills and scholarship in pursuit of the art of directing choirs in the Russian Orthodox Church. They took courses in musicianship, singing, liturgics and Russian music history, learning such chants as Znamenniy and contemporary polyphony. This year's 25th Anniversary was celebrated with a marvelous gala in Chicago's Holy Virgin Protection Cathedral, where the director of the music program, Archpriest Andre Papkov, serves and functions as dean of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska.
Seth Davidenko, currently a third-year seminarian, started attending the Summer School while still in High School as a member of his parish choir. Describing his motivation for enrolling as a form of responsibility to the Church, he explains, "If I'm going to walk around in a cassock, I have to learn my role." Learning the interconnections between the choir, priests, and deacon, he was impressed by the fact that musicality intricately ties all aspects of the liturgy together. Therefore, a deep study of the Typikon is essential, and he is grateful that he had the opportunity to do so in a formal setting under qualified and knowledgeable instructors.
Learn more about our Summer School of Liturgical Music!
Monastery Labor Day Pilgrimage and PaTRAM Youth Singer’s Conference
Adding to the musicality of this past summer, Holy Trinity Monastery hosted the First Annual Patriarch Tikhon Russian American Music Institute (PaTRAM) Young Singers' Conference to coincide with its Labor Day Pilgrimage of St. Job of Pochaev. This three-day conference focused on two Hierarchical Divine Liturgies under the capable direction of Dr. Peter Jermikov and in conjunction with the combined Holy Trinity Monastery/Seminary choir. For the first time in many years, the antiphons of the Divine Liturgy were sung with two choirs with the mixed youth choir on the left and the Monastery male choir on the right. Participants also had time to enjoy a barbeque and late summer afternoon at the scenic Glimmerglass State Park on Lake Otsego.
Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary Celebrates Its 68th Commencement
On Sunday, May 29, 2016 Holy Trinity Orthodox Seminary concluded the 2015-2016 academic year with the Commencement Ceremonies celebrating the achievements of the Class of 2016. His Eminence, Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York, First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, presided at the Hierarchal Vigil Saturday evening and at the Divine Liturgy on the Sunday of Samaritan Woman in concelebration with the clergy of Holy Trinity Monastery. At the Sixth Hour, His Eminence tonsured the third-year seminarian Sergey Kosov to the rank of reader and ordained him to the subdiaconate. At the Small Entrance of the Liturgy, the Rev. Priest Ephraim Willmarth, Assistant Dean of the Seminary, was awarded the right to wear the nabedrennik, and three deacons – the Rev. Dn Peter Markevich (’13), the Rev. Dn Andrei Psarev (’95), and the Rev. Dn Andrew Doubleday – were awarded double oraria. After the anaphora, Metropolitan Hilarion ordained Subdeacon Sergey Kosov to the holy diaconate. The homily after the communion verse was delivered in English and Russian by Reader Vitaly Permiakov, HTOS Instructor in Dogmatic and Liturgical Theology.
At 2 o’clock in the afternoon, despite the inclement weather, the faculty, staff, and students of the Seminary proceeded to the Holy Trinity Cathedral for the Thanksgiving Moleben, presided by Metropolitan Hilarion. After the Moleben and the group photo, all proceeded to the Seminary Hall, where the Very Rev. Archimandrite Luke, the Rector of the Seminary, opened the Commencement Exercises and offered his welcoming remarks, reflecting upon the need for the students of theology to continue asking questions, seeking the truth, following the example of the Samaritan Woman in the Gospel.
The focus of the Commencement ceremonies was the keynote address delivered by Dr Christopher Veniamin, Professor of Patristics at St Tikhon’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (South Canaan, PA) and a spiritual child of late Elder Sophrony (Sakharov) of St John the Baptist Monastery in Essex. In his engaging talk, Dr Veniamin stressed the need for future pastors to persist in their discipline of prayer, calling upon the name of God, building a foundation for becoming true theologians.
Following the address, the diplomas were awarded to the members of the HTOS Class of 2016. Four seminarians – Reader Stanislav Matveev (magna cum laude), Daniil Semenov, Reader Stefan Stoyanov, and the Rev. Priest Seraphim Wing (in absentia) – received the degree of Bachelor of Theology. Two students – Reader Johannes Sanjaya and Nicholas Williams – were awarded Certificates in Pastoral Studies, and the Rev. Dn Dmitry Matveev received the Certificate in Theological Studies. In the address from the graduating class, Reader Stanislav Matveev, chosen by the Pedagogical Council as Valedictorian, reflected upon the experiences and challenges of living and studying at the Seminary as the ground for testing one’s own preparedness for the service to the Church.
Special recognition at the Commencement ceremonies was given to two faculty members who are leaving Holy Trinity Seminary at the end of this academic year: Mr Arseny G. Mikhalev (’09) who taught courses in Old and New Testament since 2012, and Mr Cyprian (Scott) Fennema, a graduate of Yale University, who taught Philosophy during the last academic year. The Rev. Ephraim Willmarth read the decision of the Pedagogical Council to recognize and to thank both departing faculty members for their good and faithful service to the Seminary and to wish them success and God’s blessing in their future endeavors. The presiding hierarch, His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion, concluded the ceremony with his closing remarks.
The 68th Commencement Exercises concluded with the reception in honor of the HTOS Class of 2016, as well as clergy, faculty, staff, students, and guests, on the lawn outside of the Seminary building. The Rector, the Administration, and the Faculty sincerely congratulate the Class of 2016 and wishes the new alumni of the Seminary the blessing of the Lord and every success in their future service to the holy Orthodox Church!